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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Lukashenko speaks out!

by Ilya Tsukanov

PRESIDENT ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO says he doesn’t rule out new presidential elections following referendum-approved changes to the constitution. But the Belarusian leader said that whatever happens he cannot just leave his post.

The Belarusian leader spoke about the most pressing issues of the day with Russian journalists in Minsk on Tuesday.

President Lukashenko dismissed opposition claims of massive vote-rigging, saying it was technically impossible. The opposition was trying to overthrow him. They want to end Belarus’s partnership with Russia and move Minsk toward the West while selling off the country’s strategic assets and industries.

The president said he was personally hurt by the scale of the opposition protests that followed his re-election last month but said he understood that some Belarusians have forgotten how their country looked 20 years ago, in the difficult years of the 1990s and early 2000s. But though that he may have “overstayed a little” in his post as Belarus’s president he was still the only one capable of defending his nation from the threats it faces at this time.

“Yes, it’s possible that I’ve sat in the president’s chair a little too long. It’s possible that I’m being shown not only on TV, but from every iron and tea pot as well. But in truth only I can protect Belarusians right now,” he said.

“I won’t just leave. I have been building Belarus for over a quarter of a century. I won’t just give it up. Besides, if I leave, my supporters will be slaughtered,” he said.

As for the harsh way in which some protesters, as well as foreign and opposition journalists, were treated during the first few days of protests following the 9th August election, Lukashenko said that there had, indeed, been some ‘excesses’. All complaints would be investigated and dealt with Lukashenko said. But the riot police could not be blamed for doing their job and defending the country.

Lukashenko said the Belarusian security forces’ action to detain opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova as she attempted to cross the border between Belarus and Ukraine was the correct decision.

Kolesnikova, a member of the presidium of the Belarusian opposition’s so-called “coordination council”, and two other members of the council were detained on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border on Tuesday morning after their BMW attempted a high-speed manoeuvre to break through a border checkpoint and flee the country.

Other members of the opposition, including presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, have already fled. Tikhanovskaya left for Lithuania on 10th August, and from there she has met with European and US officials and made efforts to coordinate the opposition inside Belarus.

President Lukashenko said that he would not speak to the so-called ‘coordination council’, saying he doesn’t consider them to be a real opposition with any constructive platform for the country.

“I will not speak to the opposition’s coordination council, because I don’t know who these people are. They are not opposition. All they’re offering is a disaster for Belarus and the Belarusian people. They want to sever all our ties with fraternal Russia. They want us to have paid education and medicine. They want to destroy all our industrial enterprises and leave workers without a job,” the president said.

The ongoing protests in his country have been organised by the United States, which operates through Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as online, plus a small nascent “bourgeois class” in Belarus itself, whom he said “want power”.

“We know who’s standing behind all these Telegram channels [on the internet]. It’s the Americans. We must all understand that this isn’t about Belarus. Their main target is Russia! So stay alert,” he warned.